Posted on Thursday, December 10, 2020

Students Use Pratt’s Launchpad to Create Projects & Access Campus Labs from Any Computer

This academic year, Pratt Institute students have a new way to remotely access technology from their home computers, addressing the needs of students during hybrid and remote learning. The cloud-based Launchpad is part of the new onePratt platform bringing the cutting-edge technology of Pratt’s campus labs to anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Creating in the Pratt Institute campus labs (photo by Armon Burton)

This academic year, Pratt Institute students have a new way to remotely access technology from their home computers, addressing the needs of students during hybrid and remote learning. The cloud-based Launchpad is part of the new onePratt platform bringing the cutting-edge technology of Pratt’s campus labs to anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

“Last spring I think every person in 3D Animation had the same thought: how on earth are we going to get any work done?” recalled Daniella Sarit Levy, BFA Digital Arts ’21 and a student worker in the Foundation Computer Lab. “Every single program costs hundreds of dollars and requires huge amounts of storage space and CPU to run anything without crashing your entire computer.”

With the introduction of Launchpad this fall, students can use a full suite of creative digital tools from any computer with any hardware and have the capability to print, mill, or laser cut their projects in the on-campus labs. Faculty and staff also have the ability to access these tools. “As soon as I could pull files from my computer into Launchpad’s Maya [a 3D computer graphics application], I was able to start back up on my thesis,” Levy said. She added that she also ended up experimenting with programs that she may not have used previously due to the space requirement on her laptop, “whereas now I can zip in and out of whatever program is available.” 

This access has allowed for more creative exploration in students’ projects and a deeper knowledge of the digital tools that can be involved in their disciplines. The current offerings include Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk, ArcGIS, Twinmotion, Slicer, Rhino, Houdini, Unity, Unreal Engine, Fusion 360, RunwayML, and more, all available to any student in any major. 

Danni Qu, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’21 and president of the Student Government Association, said that Launchpad led her to work with programs that she would not have in her usual curriculum. “I’ve been interested in learning about 3D modeling and that’s not taught in the classes I’m currently taking,” she explained. “My emphasis is on illustration, but the professional route I want to go down is product design, so I’m interested in learning how to create 3D prints. I would have had to buy my own 3D printer as I’m remote right now, but through Launchpad I can try out these different things. For someone who wants to learn about another program outside your major, there is a lot to play around with.”

Since Launchpad is run through a browser window and saves files to Google Drive, it does not require having an expensive personal computer to run. “This advancement levels the educational playing field,” said Karina Richardson, BFA Communications Design (Illustration) ’18 and the Digital Output Administrator at Pratt’s 2D Printing Center. 

Richardson noted that the partnering of Launchpad with on-campus production facilities and Pratt’s Mail Center allows Pratt students to submit their projects via the cloud for printing “and have those prints delivered to their doors without leaving their homes during a pandemic.” This service has made the capabilities of the on-campus labs and their printing, milling, and cutting technology—including recent additions like a high-powered Zünd cutter—newly accessible.

Silvia Lambarri Mestres, MS Package Design ’22, used the production features to connect to laser cutting and 3D printing facilities for this semester’s projects. “They all have a similar way to upload your files as well as leave any specific notes you want the staff to know,” she said. “They all also have a part where you can see when your project has been completed which was really helpful in knowing when you could pick it up [or when it was shipped].”

By bringing equity of technology to all Pratt students, Launchpad will continue to open up new avenues of creative exploration wherever they are working and studying.